Here’s a sad and harsh reality: Filipinos who have the means to travel for leisure would rather hop in a plane and go to some foreign country. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against other countries. In fact, I myself have travelled out of the country numerous times already. What can I say? I have wanderlust in my blood.
For my part, though, what I’m trying to say is, I would much rather make plans to travel within the Philippines before I make plans to travel out of it. There’s so much that the Philippines has to offer, a lifetime may not be enough to explore its every nook and cranny.
I will try to visit and write about “the roads less traveled” in the Philippines, but for now, this post is about two must-visit wonders in Tanay, Rizal. I’m talking about Daranak Falls and Calinawan Cave, which I visited with my cousin and a friend.
Tanay, Rizal is an oft-overlooked tourist destination, perhaps due to its proximity to the Metro. However, you’d be amazed at its many offerings, two of which are the above-mentioned.
Daranak Falls is actually considered one of Tanay’s flagship destinations. Many local and international movies have been shot there. It is nestled at the foot of Tanay Mountains, shrouded by natural vegetation, and set off by ponds and rivers that cascade through the lush foliage surrounding the 14-meter high falls.
Calinawan Cave, on the other hand, is one of Tanay’s best-kept secrets. This enormous cave system is composed of numerous chambers and multiple levels. Apparently, the cave served as the hideout of Filipino revolutionaries during WWII. Sadly, some of the rock formations inside the cave have been vandalized.
Getting to Daranak Falls and Calinawan Cave
If you’re familiar with Starmall in Mandaluyong, you’ll see that there is a station for passenger vans there. For 70Php, you can ride one bound for Tanay where you have the option to disembark at Tanay Church or at the final drop-off point, Tanay Supermarket. Otherwise, you may opt to ride a passenger jeep or UV/FX bound for Antipolo. Fare is between 30-40Php. Once you get off in Antipolo, you can ride a jeep to Tanay for about 20-30Php. Should you decide to get off at Tanay Supermarket, you need to hire a tricycle as your “get around” vehicle. Standard fare is 150Php, but it can be more, depending on the places you want to visit.
For our part, we rode a passenger jeep from Santolan, Pasig to Antipolo. Fare was 33Php/person. From Antipolo, we boarded another passenger jeep enroute to Tanay and paid 40Php per head. We traveled for about two hours and got off at Tanay Market. From there, we hired a tricycle for 400Php for six hours, and it took us to Daranak Falls, Calinawan Cave, and the lighthouse in Rizal.
Finally at Calinawan Cave
There was hardly any people at Calinawan Cave, which was a plus for us. We paid a 20Php entrance fee per person and 100Php for our guide. Actually, the 100Php was for the guide to walk us through the first two chambers of the cave, which were the easiest to get into. For the succeeding chambers, you would need to give the guide a tip. According to our guide, the third to fifth chambers would be muddy and wet. The path would be easy, but you would have to crawl through crevices to get inside the chambers. We gave our guide a little extra money for the extra caves.
For the Calinawan Cave trek, I would suggest you bring a headlamp, waterproof bag, change of clothes, and a towel. To take better pictures, it would also be a good idea to bring a flashlight, since it’s dark inside the caves.
Refreshing Daranak Falls
After our Calinawan Cave adventure, we headed to Daranak Falls. We paid 20Php per head for the entrance (it’s 15Php per head for children). Picnic sheds may be rented for 300Php, and since we brought our own food, we rented one so we could eat. Alternatively, picnic tables were available for 150Php. Rubber tubings can be rented for 50Php.
Like Calinawan Cave, Daranak wasn’t too crowded that day. Our guide did say that it could be packed, especially during weekends, when families troop to the falls for a picnic. There’s a special part where you can jump off straight into the waters, and you can climb the side of the waterfalls, too. My companions and I enjoyed a quiet “Jacuzzi time” downstream and bonded by the river rather than visit the nearby falls.
Our last stop for our day trip was the “parola” or lighthouse. It was a bit windy, but the climb to the lighthouse was worth it. Our hired driver was offering to take us to the windmills, but my cousin had a commitment for dinner, so we had to make headway for home (the trip home would take us about two hours).
If you decide to visit Tanay and you have plenty of time in your hands, make sure to visit the following:
- Daranak Falls
- Batlag Falls
- Calinawan Cave
- Parola Lighthouse
- San Ildefonso Parish Church
- Kay-ibon Falls
- Tinipak Rock and Spring
- Regina RICA
- Mount Daraitan
- Mount Batolusong
- Masungi Rock Formation
- Wawa Dam
- Grotto of Lady of Rawang
For our part, the last place we visited before heading home was San Ildefonso Parish Church, and I can honestly say we saved the best for last.